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Arizona unemployment rate down 4.5 percentage points in May

A month after doubling as the state’s economy staggered under the coronavirus pandemic, Arizona’s unemployment dropped by 4.5 percentage points during May.

The state Office of Economic Opportunity reported that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for May was 8.9%, down from 13.4% in April as business closures and other impacts from the pandemic took hold.

Nonfarm employment increased by 45,200 jobs between April and May with the private sector adding 58,900 jobs and the government sector losing 13,700 jobs, the office said Thursday.

However, nonfarm employment in May decreased by 163,100 jobs from May 2019 when the state’s unemployment was just 4.6 percent. The vast majority of year-over-year job losses were in the private sector, the office said.

Many businesses reopened or expanded their operations after Gov. Doug Ducey lifted stay-home orders and other restrictions in mid-May.

The travel industry was slammed by the pandemic, and the leisure and hospitality sector accounted for the lion’s share of the May increase as it added 37,200 jobs.

Other areas of the private sector that had large increases in jobs in May were trade, transportation, and utilities (9,000 jobs), other services (8,400 jobs), education and health services (5,400 jobs) and construction (3,500 jobs).

The professional and business services sector lost 3,700 jobs and manufacturing lost 11,300 jobs.